‘It’s a movie in regards to the silence’ — Egyptian filmmaker Amir Ramses discusses ‘Curfew’


DUBAI: There’s an ethos that many households world wide comply with: The household’s status is paramount. Even the worst of occasions — particularly the worst — have to be saved secret, as a result of the wound of public disgrace is larger than any wound {that a} horror equivalent to abuse can inflict.

But who does that tradition of secrecy defend? “Curfew,” a brand new movie by Egyptian director Amir Ramses, is an exploration of 1 such secret, a taboo too tough for many to even talk about — youngster abuse. 

Debuting on the Cairo International Film Festival on the finish of 2020 and now streaming on OSN, it’s a movie a couple of mom launched from jail years after being locked up for killing her husband. Now free, she tries to reconnect along with her daughter, the sufferer of crimes that she has but to face even in her personal thoughts. 

Ilham Shaheen performs the mom, Fatin, and Amina Khalil, performs her daughter Layla. (Supplied)

“For me, it’s a film about the silence. It’s a film about how something like this could happen, and everyone would prefer to be silent, to accept it, because it’s a big scandal if people know about it. And yet, that’s what lets it happen,” Ramses tells Arab News. 

Ramses had seen how, at the same time as nobody talked about it in well mannered firm, tales of abuse would pop up within the media at a fee of about as soon as per week — tales so disturbing that they haunted him. What fascinated him, too, was that they normally solely got here to mild when one thing else unspeakable occurred of their wake, equivalent to a homicide to cowl up the crime. The value of silence was painfully clear. 

“It’s not treated as a crime on its own, oftentimes. I think the way the film connects the dots on the crime might be irritating for a society that doesn’t want to hear about it, or that just wants to pretend that everything’s OK, that it doesn’t happen that much. They would rather pretend it doesn’t exist,” says Ramses.

The movie debuted on the Cairo International Film Festival on the finish of 2020 and now streaming on OSN. (Getty)

He intentionally set the story in the course of the 2013 curfews of a Cairo in turmoil, making the scenario as claustrophobic as doable — there’s nowhere to flee from the secrets and techniques {that a} household has saved for the sake of honor and status. 

But the movie focuses not a lot on the crime itself because it does on whether or not or not the characters, — anchored by dedicated performances from its leads Ilham Shaheen, who performs the mom, Fatin, and Amina Khalil, who performs her daughter Layla — can discover a approach to face the reality, and whether or not good can prevail between characters pulled aside by the horrors of the previous. 

“The effect of the crime on the humans living it is the most important part,” Ramses says. “I mean, the film is based on the abuse case. But it’s really a film about Layla and Fatin. It’s about two people learning to love, tolerate, trust and forgive each other. It’s about the ability of a daughter to forgive her mother and love again.”

Ramses has spent a lot of his profession tackling subject material that others draw back from. In 2012, he directed “Jews of Egypt,” a documentary that reverberated world wide, sparking controversy and debate each in Egypt and much from its borders. 

Ramses has spent a lot of his profession tackling subject material that others draw back from. (Supplied)

While he could be comfy being seen as a provocateur, he has lengthy felt uncomfortable being seen as something near a moralist. Ramses doesn’t wish to make movies which might be meant to instigate social change. He desires to make artwork. It’s a steadiness that was tough to keep up in a movie as loaded as “Curfew.”

“I used to be afraid of that aspect of features, actually. Films becoming a social tool is something that always scared me,” he says. “It diminishes the role of art, in my opinion. I always thought that if your film serves only as a social tool, it’s a direct, boring propaganda film, in a way. But when you make a film as you wish, and it still has that aspect, I think it’s fulfilling.” 

That is a part of the rationale that Ramses made “Jews of Egypt” as a documentary, as he believes  they will function as a message before everything. 

“I was too afraid to make ‘Jews of Egypt’ into a narrative film. I thought the film did need to have a social impact, so I couldn’t escape it. The social impact of this film (was in) bringing tolerance back towards Egyptian Jews. I thought, ‘OK. If I make a narrative about it, it will create an impact. But it would be a very silly movie, with a lot of long, direct speeches.’ That’s why I decided to make it into a documentary.”

Ramses has lengthy been targeted on movies as an artform. (Supplied)

Even after its launch, Ramses remains to be grappling with the position “Curfew” ought to play in Egypt and past. He is fascinated to see how individuals react to the movie on a social stage whereas sustaining that, before everything, it was not made with that intention.

He just isn’t shouting from the rooftops about it, however an hour into our dialog he admits that the movie has already modified at the very least one life — that of somebody who attended an early screening.

“In one of the test screenings, I had someone who had (experienced) a similar incident. After the movie they got into that mood and went home to have a family discussion about it. Again, that’s not the role of the film. That’s not what films are made for. But that’s also intriguing to know that it can do that sometimes,” says Ramses. 

Even after its launch, Ramses remains to be grappling with the position “Curfew” ought to play in Egypt and past. (Supplied)

Ramses has lengthy been targeted on movies as an artform, first falling in love with the medium on the age of 10 watching the movies of legendary Egyptian filmmaker Youssef Chahine, who made a younger Ramses conscious that movies couldn’t solely be the blockbuster popcorn fare he’d loved rising up, equivalent to “Indiana Jones” and “Star Wars,” however may very well be one thing extra, a deeper exploration of the human situation.

It’s a journey that led to him not solely changing into a filmmaker, but in addition one in every of Egypt’s premiere movie connoisseurs. Ramses has served because the inventive director of the El Gouna Film Festival in Egypt since its inception in 2017, a continuation of the job he was doing out of his house since he was a youngster, exhibiting individuals in Egypt films from Europe and Asia, alongside the under-appreciated greats of Egypt itself (of which there are various he nonetheless feels don’t get sufficient respect). 

With “Curfew,” Ramses has made a movie that he hopes Egyptian cinephiles display for his or her pals sometime the identical means that he did for his. His dream, finally, is to instill in future generations the identical ardour that has pushed him his whole life. 

“I’ve always been trying to make films that would survive, that wouldn’t be just about the time of the release,” he says. “I hope it continues.”

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